§ 4. Major-General Sir Edward Spears
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied that the undertaking given in the Proclamation of Syrian Independence in September, 1941, that the French would give the Syrians 789 all the help in their power to enable them to have their own national forces has been fulfilled; if not, whether, in view of the fact that this proclamation was endorsed by His Majesty's Government, he has made or will consider making representations to the French Government on the subject; and whether any approach has been made to him by the Syrian Government requesting the good offices of His Majesty's Government in the matter.
§ Mr. Eden
The question of the Syrian armed forces has for some time past been under discussion between the French and Syrian Governments. The discussions are not yet concluded. His Majesty's Government have been in close and friendly touch with both sides in these negotiations which affect the future of forces performing operational duties for the Allied Powers.
§ Sir E. Spears
Is it not the fact that the armed forces of these two countries, which were promised, are being withheld because the French wish to exact a Treaty in exchange; and as the countries are independent, and as the Prime Minister said only last week that you cannot have a State without some kind of National Army, ought not these troops to be handed over?
§ Mr. Boothby
On a point of Order. May I ask your guidance on this point, Sir? My hon. and gallant Friend has quite recently occupied a highly responsible post in the Middle East, and is for that reason furnished with exceptional information which is not known to the House. May I ask whether it is, in your opinion, in Order or desirable that he, with his special knowledge, should raise these points?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of Order. Hon. Members are responsible for the Questions they put down, and if they are about matters for which they have had special responsibility they will no doubt exercise due care.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Is it not the case that when a Question passes the Clerk at the 790 Table that is sufficient for it to go to the Minister, who then has a right to reply?
§ 5. Sir E. Spears
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what requests have been received by the British military authorities in the Middle East from the Syrian and Lebanese Governments for arms for their gendarmeries; and whether it has been found possible to provide them with the quantity of arms necessary to enable them to maintain internal security.
§ Mr. Eden
The Syrian and Lebanese Governments last year asked that their gendarmeries might be re-equipped to enable them to discharge their duty of maintaining order more effectively. As the result of discussions between the British and French authorities the gendarmeries, which had been increased in number, were last year completely re-equipped with firearms, transport, uniforms and other items. Discussions with reference to other items of equipment are continuing. As regards the maintenance of internal security, the situation is under constant review.
§ Sir E. Spears
From the point of view of security, is it not most important that the gendarmeries should be properly equipped according to the requirements of our military authorities?